Translation examinations - negative results
Thread poster: susieqcog
susieqcog
Ireland
Local time: 19:10
French to English
+ ...
Feb 12, 2016

Dear all,

I am currently undertaking a masters in Translation Studies and yesterday I received some disappointing and rather shocking exam results. Last semester I studied French translation of general texts such as newspaper articles, etc. and German economic translation. I consistently did quite well throughout the semester, usually scoring in the region of 62-68% and generally receiving positive feedback on my translation skills. I personally felt my skills were developing also, and I was getting more and more confident about translation. I also managed to get taken on by two translation agencies after passing translation tests for both. However after receiving grades of 54% and 57% in my German and French translation modules respectively, I just feel totally disheartened and am concerned that after three months of training at university I only managed to score in the 50s.

I really hope I'm not coming across as slightly immature in this post, or as someone who just wants an all A report card, but I'm just feeling very discouraged. What makes a good translator? Have I overestimated my competencies?

I would greatly appreciate any insights.
Thanks


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 02:10
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Learning curves Feb 14, 2016

susieqcog wrote:

I really hope I'm not coming across as slightly immature in this post, or as someone who just wants an all A report card, but I'm just feeling very discouraged. What makes a good translator? Have I overestimated my competencies?



Languages are special skill we need much concentration. From my past study records, I find that time is a key function: the longer time you spend, the better you master a foreign language.
Tests give you a better learning curve. Why not repeatedly take examinations or tests. Many of them are free on the online services.

Soonthon L.


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:10
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Translation problem or language problem? Feb 14, 2016

susieqcog wrote:
I just feel totally disheartened and am concerned that after three months of training at university I only managed to score in the 50s.

What is your linguistic background? I'm guessing you've come back to education after some time in the outside world. Do you have much experience living in France and Germany and have you been using both actively? Maybe it's as simple as being rusty in those languages...

As a general point, I have found that translation improves with use, like most things. As another general point, none of the tests and exams I took in university were really relevant to the world outside its walls. If you've been taken on by decent agencies you can't be that bad.

Regards
Dan


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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:10
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Exactly my thoughts Feb 14, 2016

Dan Lucas wrote:
Translation problem or language problem?


It sounds like it's a case of lack of understanding of the source languages. I would ask to see the marked paper and book a session with your tutor to hear their comments.


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Kristina Cosumano  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:10
Member (2015)
German to English
Make appointments with your teachers, Feb 14, 2016

and ask them where you went astray on the tests and what they feel you need to work on, specifically. It may be something very specific and very small that you consistently translated one thing wrong but which unfortunately showed up in the tests 20 times, for example. One step at a time. And don't be afraid to ask them, that's their job!

Perhaps not relevant to your worries, but I once had a stretch of time where I felt good about my work and then one day got a rather devastating peer review. He wrote out everything I had done wrong, however, which let me learn from my mistakes - the biggest of which was that I must never, ever translate before the first cup of coffee in the morning.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:10
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Great advice Feb 14, 2016

Kristina Cosumano wrote:
and ask them where you went astray on the tests and what they feel you need to work on, specifically.

Exactly. The best way to improve is to know what went wrong and work on it.

As for negative feedback in an actual translation, I am pretty sure all translators in the world have had that capital experience at some stage of their professional life and that has helped them improve dramatically.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 20:10
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Were you translating under different conditions at the exam? Feb 15, 2016

In real life, you are allowed to do just about anything - ask colleagues, google, and (sometimes at least) take the time you need to find the correct solution to a translation problem.

In an exam, conditions may be more restricted, and some normal forms of help may be disallowed, to make sure it really is YOUR work. Pressure of time and nerves make a difference, even if you feel optimistic.
If that is the case, then you will have to forgive yourself. There is some consolation in the thought that your 'real life' results are the ones that count.

But certainly ask your teachers for feedback, and put it to good use. It is always best if teachers, proofreaders and colleagues find your mistakes before the text goes to a client!

Best of luck in the future!


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 20:10
Danish to English
+ ...
What makes a good translator? Feb 15, 2016

susieqcog wrote:

What makes a good translator?


A lot of things... but to mention a few:

*Excellent theoretical and practical knowledge of source and target language, including cultural immersion in all language areas that you want to work in (studying is rarely enough, you need hands-on experience, and lots of it).
*Ability to research your chosen subject areas -or, maybe even better, practical experience within those subject areas. You need to understand what you translate about.
*Willingness and ability to learn from your mistakes.
*Willingness to listen to people who understand the intricacies of your chosen languages better than you do - at the moment.
*Stamina - hang in there, you don't become an expert overnight.
*Experience, experience, experience - if you have the basic qualities to become a translator, then you will find that you get better, the more you translate. Sounds simple, but it is also true. You accumulate insight and expertise over the years. Three months at university do not an expert make...

I once had a Spanish grammar teacher tell me in front of the entire class: Your work is rubbish. If you don't improve, you will never amount to anything! He was right, and I had to work a lot harder to get through my Master's course, but I did, and with above average results. I'm glad he told me the truth in a way that could not be misunderstood.



[Edited at 2016-02-15 08:16 GMT]


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:10
Member (2014)
English to German
Agree with Kristina Feb 15, 2016

I don't think you will find answers here.

Your tutors know your work and can give you exact pointer and areas to work on ...


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susieqcog
Ireland
Local time: 19:10
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks for the extremely helpful replies Feb 15, 2016

Folks,

Thank you all sincerely for your helpful replies. I am meeting both the relevant lecturers today to see my scripts and discuss my results. Christine I acknowledge the distinction between an exam situation and a real life situation. Perhaps the factors you mentioned influenced me more than I anticipated.

I have spent two years living in France and one in Germany. I still practice French everyday (my partner is French) but it's true that being in an English-speaking country again has greatly hindered my opportunities to use German, something which I'm currently working on.

Thanks especially to Gitte for your useful real life pointers (something very lacking in my current translation course).

The moral of the story is, I have a lot to learn. Which is fine by me, that's why I'm here!

Thanks again all, I feel very relieved and encouraged!


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